California: Two-thirds of hospitals refuse to apply the law authorizing physician-assisted suicide

Publié le 29 Apr, 2019

In California, physician-assisted suicide has been allowed for three years, but many hospitals and doctors refuse to offer it to their patients. “We had heard anecdotally and from reports that patients were having trouble getting these drugs,” says Cindy Cain, professor of sociology at the University of Alabama, “we didn’t know how many hospitals allowed this practice, so we conducted a survey. We were surprised by the results. The number of hospitals refusing was greater than we thought.”


This survey[1] interviewed 270 Californian hospitals over the period from September 2017 to March 2018. The issue was the application of the End Of Life Option Act (EOLOA), in effect since 9 June 2016, which allows adults living in California to apply for a prescription for lethal drugs if they are terminally ill. Survey results indicate that 164 hospitals, or 61%, prohibit physicians from writing end-of-life prescriptions “and ban affiliated physicians from helping patients obtain them”, while only 106 hospitals, or 39%, allow them to do so.


The survey also showed that hospitals allowing EOLOA were more often secular, non-profit hospitals, more often had a palliative care unit, and generally offered end-of-life training to doctors. In 2017, 374 patients died by physician-assisted suicide, representing 13.5 deaths per 10,000.


[1] Survey published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Reuters, Linda Carroll (08/04/2019)

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